It took me a minute to process that Talia Jackson is only 18-years-old. Her voice is mature, measured and she listens. Meaning where most kids in their teens talk over each other, Talia Jackson pauses and listens before answering a question and that’s fun because, as an adult it makes me feel down-right good that a young person is listening to me.
Talia Jackson is an actress and singer and the star of Netflix’s “Family Reunion” firmly placing her among Gen Z Hollywood and other leading voices of her generation that includes Zendaya, Yara Shahidi and Amandla Stenberg. Plus, she has that singing edge that shoots Jackson to the cool factor.
In Netflix’s hit multi-camera comedy “Family Reunion” (season 1B which premiered on Monday, January 20th) Jackson stars alongside Loretta Devine as ‘Jade McKellan,’ the oldest daughter of Tia Mowry-Hardrict’s character, from veteran showrunner Meg DeLoatch (“Family Matters”). Season 1B of “Family Reunion” follows the McKellans as they stick it out in small-town Georgia with even more antics under ‘M’Dear’s’ roof. From a wedding and boyfriend drama to a step showdown and sibling squabbles, the party’s just getting started. This season, Talia’s character will tackle social norms and showcase her vocal prowess with the debut of Jade’s new single “This is Me, No Apologies.”
Jackson was born in Wisconsin but moved with her family to Santa Barbara at the age of eight to begin pursuing her twin passions of acting and singing. Jackson is made of the tough stuff, a hard worker and dedicated to honing her craft. She climbed the ladder quickly booking roles in “Family Reunion” and “Station 19” in the same month. When she’s not in front of the camera, Jackson values spending time with her younger brother Armani Jackson, also a working actor (Netflix’s “Little Boxes”), volunteering with animal rescue organizations and lending her voice to the Global Lyme Alliance, an organization dedicated to conquering Lyme disease, an illness which she has been suffering from since she was 13-years-old.
Here’s what Netflix’s “Family Reunion” Talia Jackson had to share about being a working actor in Hollywood, dealing with Lyme disease and why she values family.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Confession. Of what I’ve seen of Netflix’s “Family Reunion” I’m a fan. It’s fun. What do you love most about your role?
TALIA JACKSON: What do I love most about my role? I would say that I do relate to [my character] Jade in multiple ways. Being a teenager and having that rebellious streak which we will see a little bit more in part two. I relate to her because I would not say that I was a defiant kid but whatever my parents told me to do I most likely wanted to do the opposite.
LAS: Talia Jackson, no! Ok. Continue.
TJ: (laughing) Well it’s a factor of wanting to be my own person. Wanting to be independent. I also really love being on set with everybody. I love playing Jade. I love getting to be with my second family. That’s what I call them [cast of “Family Reunion”]. We all fall into characters the second we get on set. It’s like a real family.
LAS: Where is the “Family Reunion” shot in L.A.?
TJ: We shoot on the Paramount lot.
LAS: Golly, I love that lot. I have a lot of fond memories. I can’t believe you are only 18. You are just at the beginning of a very long career.
TJ: Thank you, I hope so.
LAS: Are you going to explore more career opportunities within the industry?
TJ: I do want to explore a few other areas. Acting will always be my first love and I will always fall back to it, no matter what. But I am already exploring the singing part of my career. I’m releasing my second single on February 7th. I also want to get into writing.
LAS: That’s what’s up. Shadow. Shadow. Shadow. Sorry, I feel the need to give motherly advice. Please, continue.
TJ: I have spoken with Meg [Meg DeLoatch “Fuller House,” “Austin & Ally,” “Eve”]. I asked her if I could get in the writer’s room.
LAS: Amazing. Meg DeLoatch is a very experienced creator and executive producer. I love that she has assembled an all-Black writer’s rooms to your show in an effort to bring authenticity to the multi-generational McKellan family. She’s amazing.
TJ: She is. She truly is.
LAS: What’s the name of your single? Is it This is Me?
TJ: No, that single is part of the show. It’s dropping on February 14th, it’s Jade’s song. My separate song still does not have a title but right now it’s 5-foot-five. It’s an r&b pop song and I wrote it. It’s about getting over a crush and girl empowerment. Letting go of baggage and moving on.
LAS: If I may be so bold, what is your ethnic mix? I’m African-American, Native and Mexican.
TJ: I am African-American and Lithuanian. My father is Black. My mother is Lithuanian.
LAS: I understand you are a vegan. Can you share your favorite places in Los Angeles?
TJ: My favorite is Hope Kitchen it’s in Studio City, it’s an Asian-inspired place. The other is Something Vegan in Toluca Lake, and you have to get the beyond burger. It’s incredible. I don’t even remember what real meat tastes like.
LAS: What is it like working on a Netflix project? I hear their parties are amazing but I’ve not been invited—yet—to one of their fabulous events.
TJ: It’s great to be a part of the Netflix family. In my opinion, it’s one of the best places to work with because they allow you to do so much in your separate life from the show because Disney and Nickelodeon sometimes they restrict you from doing things. Especially when you’re 18, you kind of want to be an adult but you can’t. Netflix our show is kids and families but they allow us to bring up deeper topics that other kids and family shows would not get to talk about. They would try to make it kid-friendly and I think, in this day and age, kids should know everything that’s going on in this country and this world. Netflix is open to having big conversations. And their events are so much fun.
LAS: (dramatically, clearing my throat). So I’ve heard. What’s your connection with Lyme disease?
TJ: I was diagnosed with Lyme disease a year and a half, two years ago. It comes from a tick who carries lime it’s more complicated but it’s easier to understand the disease this way. My mother was also diagnosed with this disease as well.
LAS: What? OMG.
TJ: Also, my brother was also diagnosed with this disease as well.
LAS: Come on. No. What happened?
TJ: Well my mother and I had been sick for a while and they [doctors] didn’t know what was happening. It took a lot of tests but they finally found the source. Not a lot of doctors are Lyme literate. These tests are very expensive.
LAS: How did this happen?
TJ: We think it came about because of a house that we rented, for a couple of years that ended up being infested. The house had an addict. Our dogs where always being bitten by fleas and they were not outside dogs. We could see mice and rats running around outside. This is a nice area in Tarzana. In the attic, it was filled with feces and ticks and stuff. We assume we got a bit there and my brother has had the disease since he was very little.
LAS: I hope you sued the owners of the house. Last words.
TJ: Well I and my family are working with the Global Lyme Alliance. It’s an organization dedicated to conquering Lyme disease. We will be doing more things in bringing awareness.
LAS: Great. You are great. I wish you luck in every endeavor. Enjoy being 18-years-old Talia Jackson.
TJ: Thank you.
Check out Netflix’s “Family Reunion” — https://www.netflix.com